Ryan Chartrand

A controversial neighborhood patrol program is on hold because of a large amount of student protest and possible budget issues.

The neighborhood protection plan was just one of many city projects created by funds from Measure Y, a half-cent tax that passed in San Luis Obispo in 2006. The part students especially opposed allowed police to cite loud parties, even if there was no neighbor or citizen complaint.

Although plans are at a halt, San Luis Obispo Chief of Police Deborah Linden said she would change the program to better reflect student concerns, a decision reached after an on-campus meeting June 3 between city officials and students.

“There is a healthy portion of students who would feel like it’s very directed at students,” said Associated Students Inc. President Angela Kramer, who attended the meeting. “They feel like it’s the ‘party police’ coming in to lay down the law or kill parties and, at the same time, there are people who understand the need.”

Officials used the meeting to clarify misunderstandings and show students why neighborhood patrols are necessary.

“I think (the meeting) put it in much better context and I think that’s valuable,” Linden said.

Linden said the reason students felt so targeted was because of vast misinformation circulated by a Facebook group of 1,500 students opposed to the measure.

Civil engineering senior Mike Ginther created the Facebook group “Students Against Measure Y” which he said grew to 1,000 members in its first week.

Although the students claim to be against Measure Y, Linden said the students actually oppose a program created by the measure, rather than the measure itself.

“There is a misunderstanding that Measure Y is a series of ordinances,” said City Councilman Paul Brown, who was also at the student discussion.

The neighborhood control plan was created based on significant complaints from community members.

“It was neighborhood residents going to City Council really, really fed up,” Linden said. Although the plan was created based on wants and needs of the community, she was open to student concerns.

“Based on that input, we’re putting refinements to the program that is now on hold,” Linden said.

Ginther said he understands the good in Measure Y.

“I think the neighborhood team via the patrols is actually a good thing, because there are a lot of things in the Poly neighborhood happening,” Ginther said. He added, however, that parts of the plan are targeted at the Greek system and sports teams.

Like fraternities and sororities, athletic teams that pass their houses on to the next generation of students are on a premise list because of prior noise violations.

“For me personally, I think that the whole point of neighborhood team is supposed to be for safety,” Kramer said.

“If there’s a cop driving down the road ticketing a few guys making noise and all they’re doing is playing on a Wii . . . that’s not what safety is about.”

After listening to student concerns regarding noise violation, Linden said that revisions will come.

However, due to recent budget issues facing the police department – because of a binding arbitration decision that resulted in pay raises for police – the future of the neighborhood control program is unclear. Linden said more specifics will be announced in coming months.

If the plan for unannounced noise citations is removed from the program, Ginther said it would appease most of the students concerns.

Kramer said she hopes to continue conversations with Linden to improve the relationship between campus and the police department. She said students should realize that these measures aren’t set in stone yet and they can always be changed.

“We’re really going to work hard this summer to develop a happy medium,” she said. “Chief Linden and I will be discussing this in the near future.”

Because the meeting was held the week before finals, time for questions and answers was limited. Councilman Brown, Kramer, and Ginther each said there needs to be more discussion on the issues.

“I wasn’t sure if they were even going to be open to hearing us,” Ginther said. “I think it’s awesome that (Linden) even came out; a lot of cities’ police wouldn’t.”

This isn’t the first time city officials have met with students.Brown and Linden both said it is something they do each year.

“Anytime you can have communication it’s a good thing,” Brown said. “I think students realize it’s not the city versus students. We’re all members of the community.”

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